I suspect that many adolescent readers will find themselves in the pages of Francina Simone’s novel Smash It! The leading female in this book, which is dedicated to “theater kids,” seventeen-year-old Olivia James-Johnson considers herself a nerdy loser, a sad black girl with a “too curvy” body, and someone who does uncool things since she’s addicted to self-sabotage. Because she lacks self-confidence, she passes up doing what she wants because she’s afraid of being judged or looking like a clown. A talented flutist who loves dancing, she can find a beat and step into it with her whole body. “When I dance, I feel likeRead More →

Anyone who loves a good heartfelt story will find it in The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand.  Although this is the story of many characters, it is told primarily from the viewpoint of Cassandra McMurtrey. Cass has just turned 18, and as an adopted child, that age makes her eligible to pursue the backstory of her adoption and to receive letters written in a letter project by the mothers who gave their children away in the hopes of securing for them a richer life.  Cass’ curiosity and desire for answers about her identity lead her on a convoluted journey of self-discovery. Cass’ bestRead More →